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Awards Put Spotlight On NZ's Stellar Start-Ups

Awards Put Spotlight On New Zealand’s Stellar Start-Ups

Five of New Zealand’s stellar start-up companies had the chance to shine on Tuesday night when their achievements were recognised at the inaugural Telecom New Zealand Incubators Awards jointly hosted in Wellington by Mayor Kerry Prendergast and Associate Minister for Industry and Regional Development Pete Hodgson.

The Telecom-sponsored awards underlined the coming of age of New Zealand’s incubation industry, with the winning companies representing everything from superconducting products and mobile phone applications, through to business strategy tools and milk-based beverages (see summary of winners below).

Presenting the awards Pete Hodgson praised the incubation industry’s contribution in assisting New Zealand businesses to excel globally and become a source of high value innovation.

“They should be proud of their achievements to date and particularly the fact that they are nurturing 130 potentially high-growth companies in addition to the 59 companies that have already graduated. The successful graduates from last year recorded an average growth rate in revenue of 156% and in employee numbers of 140%,” Pete Hodgson said.

“That’s why support for business incubators is a key plank in the Government’s Growth and Innovation Framework. It ensures that New Zealand innovators are able to turn ideas into new businesses and jobs.”

Since the establishment of the industry just four years ago, incubator-assisted companies have attracted more than $29 million in equity capital and now employ more than 500 people.

Telecom’s Gen-i General Manager Chris Quin said the Award winners were to be congratulated on their success in bringing their innovative ideas to commercial life.

“Creating an outstanding business requires more than a great idea. It takes an incredible amount of commitment and perseverance, particularly when you’re also taking on the world, and all of these companies deserve recognition for what they’ve achieved,” he said.

New Zealand’s incubation industry is led by Incubators New Zealand which represents 16 regional incubators, providing entrepreneurs and start-ups with the expertise, networks, tools and stimulating environment needed to make their ventures successful.

The Telecom New Zealand Incubators Award winners for 2005 are:

Start-up of the Year

HTS-110 Limited was recognised as ‘Start-up of the Year’ for taking full advantage of the growing international demand for high temperature superconducting (HTS) products. With 100% of their product exported they have negotiated distribution partnerships in Japan and Korea in order to access the lucrative Asian markets, as well as developing a strategic partnership with the American Superconductor Corporation. After just one year in operation they have created a substantial revenue base, raised significant venture capital and grown to seven employees. HTS-110 is a member of the IRL incubator in Lower Hutt.

Start-up Entrepreneur of the Year

Debbie Turner of Traffic NZ Limited was awarded ‘Start-Up Entrepreneur of the Year’ for her role in turning a start-up into a multi-million dollar company that now employs 22 staff plus contractors. All this has been achieved in less than three years. A business performance accelerator, Traffic has developed a business model and methodology framework that allows them to create compelling business strategies for medium to large enterprises. Traffic NZ is a graduate of the AUT Tech Park incubator in Auckland.

Innovation of the Year

Mobile Commerce Limited (M-Com) and Innaworks Development Limited shared the award for Innovation of the Year.

M-Com’s innovation, called mTopUp, allows consumers to top up their prepaid value for a service such as mobile airtime or electricity value from their bank account of choice through a SMS/text message from their mobile phone. The service was first launched in New Zealand in 2004 by Telecom and ASB Bank. M-Com is a member of The ICEHOUSE incubator in Auckland.

Innaworks developed mBooster, an automated optimizer that reduces the size of mobile games and applications for the J2ME platform. Normally the code would be manually examined and rewritten, but mBooster has automated the process and reduces a task that could take a few weeks to a few minutes. This addresses one of the two principal barriers facing mobile game developers in a market currently worth US$2 billion. Innaworks is a member of the Creative HQ incubator in Wellington.

Hall of Fame Award

The Hall of Fame award, recognising a successful incubator graduate, was presented to func.nutrition Limited for its revenue growth, capital raising success and its innovations in developing 23 dairy milk based functional beverages. To date, the company is best known in New Zealand for its Sun Latte milk brand, which not only has the highest protein and calcium levels of fresh milks, but is lowest in fat, cholesterol and carbohydrates. Func.nutrition graduated from The ICEHOUSE incubator in Auckland.

Incubator of the Year

Canterbury Innovation Incubator (Cii) was awarded ‘Incubator of the Year’ for their success in turning software and IP-based ventures in to high growth companies. Cii has been recognised as a world-class business incubator, receiving a score of 97.1% in an international best practice review in 2004. An example of their success is Datacol, one of very few companies in New Zealand to make the Deloitte’s Fast 50 three years running and which grew from three to 25 staff during incubation.

Telecom New Zealand Incubators Expo

Most of these award winners will be showcased, alongside another 50 incubator companies, at the Telecom New Zealand Incubator Expo being held in the Wellington Town Hall on Thursday 28 April and open to the public from 10am – 4pm. The Expo is being supported by Positively Wellington Business and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise.


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